‘The Bling Ring’ is best when it’s only shallow

Emma Watson plays one of a group of real-life teens who stole from celebrities in Sofia Coppola's "The Bling Ring." Credit: A24
Emma Watson plays one of a group of real-life teens who stole from celebrities in Sofia Coppola’s “The Bling Ring.”
Credit: A24

‘The Bling Ring’
Director: Sofia Coppola
Stars: Emma Watson, Israel Broussard
Rating: R
2 (out of 5) Globes

Sofia Coppola is perhaps the only filmmaker who could make anything out of the true life titular gang in “The Bling Ring,” namely a coterie of teens who broke into celebrities’ homes, making off with millions worth in designer clothing and cash. What is there to say about? The story speaks for itself about materialism and the banality of (moderate) evil in the age of social media. Anything else would be too obvious, mere underlining. The best way to handle it, if one must at all, is to embody the subjects’ braindead thirst for fancy stuff. The characters in “The Bling Ring” don’t think, they just do. If Google allows them to find Paris Hilton’s house, and if she broadcasts on Twitter she’ll be DJing a club on such a night, then it follows they must break in and steal her fancy clothes — although perhaps not her dog.

For about an hour, Coppola’s sixth feature is hypnotic. That’s not because of the filmmaking, which is less ostentatiously minimalist than in “Somewhere. That film found her finally paying homage to Chantal Akerman, whose epic “Jeanne Dielman” includes such sequences as a four-minute shot of someone skinning potatoes. It’s because it has an overall flatness, in style and judgment. The camera stares dead-eyed at the questionable activities of the group, which includes nice guy/unreseolved metrosexual Nick (Israel Broussard), enabler Rachel (Katie Chang) and a Valley Girl (Emma Watson) home-schooled not by a Christian fundamentalist but by a devotee of The Secret (Leslie Mann).

That last joke is a bit too broad for such an intentionally one-note film. Indeed, there are times, when Coppola is having its dim characters strut about in stolen duds in slow-mo to gangsta rap, that the film feels more like Todd Solondz than the director of “The Virgin Suicides” and “Lost in Translation.” It’s not that Solondz is beneath her; he’s just a different, polarizing filmmaker, and it’s distressing to see her try her hand at sour jokiness. Once our anti-heroes are busted, the film suddenly does take a stance. Watson’s pampered girl goes faux-remorse, wearing sensible outfits as she tells fawning journos about how she wants to head a charity. Nick becomes the fall guy, the victim of mean girls who are better at working a girl-obsessed media. Watson’s patently empty line readings, read in an ‘80s accent, are hilarious, but they’re from a different, sillier film. Coppola is great at portraying the laziness of wealth; when it comes to analyzing it, or other things, she’s as shallow as the characters she often depicts.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

U.S. Soccer

Orlando City takes shot at NYCFC over Frank…

Orlando City reminded the world how big a signing Brazilian star Kaka earlier this month with a photo of Kaka mobbed by fans juxtaposed against Lampard.

NBA

Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.